Inookshuk of the Inuit Peoples

Inookshuk of the Inuit Peoples
Inookshuk of the Inuit Peoples

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Giving Tree

One of the hardest things for me to do without are trees.  I think I still have genetic memories of living in a tree, and while I love looking at prairies and deserts, I just don't feel as secure as I when I'm in a  nice stand of trees.

Here at Coyote House, in Malheur NWR, we only have one tree in our yard, a really beat-up willow that is over half dead. (Actually is is four stems in one hole which functions as a single tree.) But it is the most interesting  thing to watch from the picture window of our living room, the site of the desk where I spend a lot of time reading and writing off my computer and also pinning bees, because it offers  food and shelter to so much wildlife and constant entertainment to the residents of Coyote Hollow. 

As I'm writing, a deer just jumped over our front fence to stretch up for a snack of willow leaves. Two or three black-chinned hummers spend a lot of time visiting two hummingbird feeders in the tree. . The female Bullock's oriole just came by for a bite of grape jelly.  The Niger seed feeder used to feed lesser and American goldfinches. Then  I got so many red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds that I tried to cut the perches WAY back to prevent them from hogging all the seed.  Now only the most agile and athletic yellow-headed blackbirds can use them, which have to flutter in place to get the seeds. Very entertaining. The red-winged blackbirds can still fit on the perches so shortening them didn't really work.

I think I can reach those leaves.

Yum!
 A western kingbird often uses it as a perch, while Bullock's orioles and western tanagers come regularly to eat oranges and grape jelly. California quail come to eat seeds under it and the lookout quail is often seen sitting up in the tree. I saw my first black-headed grosbeak sitting on the grape jelly feeder.The Bullock orioles, first seen here,  also were lifers. Yellow warblers stop by to forage for bugs.  And yellow-rumped warblers sometimes are found using the tree for a perch from which to sally out after flying insects. Red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, Brewer's blackbirds, and brown-headed cowbirds are often found resting here in single or mixed flocks. Yellow-billed magpie's come to check the suet feeder and eat the peanut-butter mix if it's out there. One just came and sampled an orange. The second eastern kingbird I've seen in the region flew in here a few days ago. Hopefully the birds can also catch the bugs attracted to the sugar and jelly.


"Can't you see we need more grape jelly!"
 I found I could train Belding's ground squirrels to climb the tree to eat the peanut butter/lard mix I make and spread into the bark. And one of then learned how to reach an orange that I had on a stub close to the trunk and ate most of that half.

Bellding's ground squirrels will eat the seeds that fall to the ground and climb for oranges and peanut butter mix
 A western kingbird often uses it as a perch while Bullock's orioles and western tanagers come regularly to eat oranges and grape jelly. California quail come to eat seeds under it and the lookout quail is often seen sitting up in the tree. I saw my first black-headed grosbeak sitting on the  grape jelly feeder and also the Bullock orioles were lifers. Yellow warblers stop by to forage for bugs.  And yellow-rumped warblers sometimes are found in this tree, hawking insects.  Red-winged blackbirds, yellow-headed blackbirds, Brewer's blackbirds, and brown-headed cowbirds are often found here in single or mixed flocks. Magpie's come to check the suet feeder and eat the peanut-butter mix if it's out there.

Black-headed grossbeak on jelly feeder - a recycled butter tub
Black-chinned hummers are the first and last feeders here
 I'm hoping to get more trees started in this yard, but I understand that, because there is an  archeological  site below the houses, there was a gravelly fill put in before the houses were moved here and there is too  much drainage to get trees to grow. I'm going to see if I can get them to grow in a little depression, hopefully with a little excavation  and an addition of water holding materials.

In this mostly treeless area, trees are super magnets for birds and social gatherings for the resident volunteers. If you have room in your yard, plant a local species of willow.  They are huge bird magnets and also feed the pollinators early in the spring. They attract a lot of insects that bring in the passerines during migration. And many species of birds will build nests in them.